Monday, 22 June 2015

All Newborn Babies in England and Scotland to be Offered the Meningitis B Vaccine

All newborn babies in England and Scotland are to be offered a vaccine to combat meningitis B from September, the government has announced.
The Men B vaccine will be given to babies at two months, four months and 12 months old.
The scheme, which has been delayed by cost disputes, is the first national and publicly-funded programme against the deadly infection in the world. Meningitis charities said the move would "save lives" straight away.
From August, another Meningitis vaccine - Men ACWY - will be offered to 17 and 18-year-olds and students starting university this year.
Negotiations over the cost of the new baby vaccine were finally resolved in March, meaning the Men B programme will be rolled out in England and Scotland from 1 September, with Wales and Northern Ireland expected to follow suit shortly afterwards.
Image: Gabi Menashe, Flickr hosts One Big Book Launch in London

On 3rd June, held its second One Big Book Launch in London, an initiative harnessing the power of collaboration to launch ten new books from ten emerging authors at the same event. 

Last year, the CompletelyNovel team were chatting to authors about book marketing, and found that many new authors were finding it difficult to get their books noticed.  Book launches in particular were often small celebrations with family and friends, rather than a platform to start building a marketing campaign on.
CompletelyNovel is known for doing things slightly differently so they created One Big Book Launch, an event that talented new authors could use to really ‘launch’ their book from. 
Ten authors were included in one launch, meaning more potential readers were in attendance and marketing for the books was focused on one event. 
It included self-published authors, as well as those published by Walker, Sandstone Press and some independent publishers. The result was an eclectic mix of books and an evening of great success for the authors. 
Image: nSeika, Flickr

Aspiring writers paid too little at the BBC?

The BBC runs a 'shadow scheme' where aspiring writers submit trial scripts for some of the most famous shows aired on the TV channel. 

These aspiring writers are paid too little for the work they produce according to Bernie Corbett, General Secretary of the Writer's Guild of Great Britain. 

A trial script can involve producing up to three drafts over three months of full-time work. Currently the BBC pay £1,000. This equates to £2.38 per hour. 

The union has suggested that payment should be increased to £2,814, which would be in line with the minimum wage. 

The shadow scheme has replaced the the BBC's academy system, a generous 12 week training period with an attendance fee of roughly £4,000. If the writers successfully completed the training period they were guaranteed a commission and paid professional rates for 12 months. 

Many are concerned that these cut backs will lead to a loss of talented new writers.

Image: Mad Group, Flickr

Authors appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Over 800 authors, from household names to rising stars, go to Charlotte Square Gardens to take part in the Book Festival each August. Here's just a small sample of the names that will be appearing at the festival this summer. For the full line-up, visit:

- Jesse Armstrong
- Ed Bryan
- Jenny Colgan
- Carol Ann Duffy
- Kat Ellis
- Vivian French
- George the Poet
- Will Hutton
- Celia Imrie
- Pip Jones
- Martin Kemp
- Caroline Lucas
- Peter May
- Alex McCall
- Sarah Novic
- Darcy Orr
- Tom Palmer
- Megan Rix
- Ali Smith
- Selina Todd
- Jenny Uglow
- Jenny Valentine
- Sarah Waters
- Xinran
- Moira Young
- Neil Zink

For information about Words Worth Reading Ltd's support services for writers, please visit our website.

Will immigration changes cause problems for nursing?

Taken directly from the RCN website, news section:

Today (22nd June 2015), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has released new research revealing that changes to immigration rules will risk intensifying the severe shortage of nurses in the UK, compromising patient safety, as well as costing the health service millions.

Changes to immigration rules

Under the new rules, people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must be earning £35,000 or more before they are allowed to stay in the UK after six years. These rules will force many nurses to return to their home countries, leaving hospitals with nothing to show for the millions of pounds spent on recruiting them. The effects of the new rules will start being felt in 2017.

Cost to the NHS

The RCN has calculated that up to 3365 nurses currently working in the UK will potentially be affected and estimates that it will have cost the NHS £20.19million to recruit them - money which will have been wasted if they are forced to leave the UK.
The figures for future years are even more worrying, particularly if overseas recruitment continues to rise as a result of a shortage of home-grown nurses and a crackdown on agency nurse spending.
If international recruitment stays the same as it is now, by 2020 the number of nurses affected by the threshold will be 6,620, employed at a cost of £39.7million. If workforce pressures force a higher rate of international recruitment, the number of nurses affected could be 29,755, costing over £178.5million to recruit.

Government must take urgent steps

Spending vast amounts of money on recruiting overseas nurses who will only be in the health system for a short period of time is a waste of valuable NHS time and resources. While Trusts are forced into relying on international recruitment to make up staffing numbers, the RCN calls on the Government to add nursing to the list of shortage occupations and to reconsider the £35k salary threshold.  
The Government must take urgent steps to increase the number of UK nurse training places. This will reduce the over reliance on overseas recruitment in the longer term.

Immigration rules will cause chaos for NHS

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN said: "Due to cuts to nurse training places, trusts are being forced into relying on overseas recruitment, as well as temporary staff, just to provide safe staffing. A cap on agency spending will make one of these options more difficult, and these immigration rules will limit the other.

"The immigration rules for health care workers will cause chaos for the NHS and other care services. At a time when demand is increasing, the UK is perversely making it harder to employ staff from overseas. The NHS has spent millions hiring nurses from overseas in order to provide safe staffing levels. These rules will mean that money has just been thrown down the drain."

Completely illogical

Dr Carter continued: "The UK will be sending away nurses who have contributed to the health service for six years. Losing their skills and knowledge and then having to start the cycle again and recruit to replace them is completely illogical. NHS trusts are being asked to provide safe staffing with both hands tied behind their backs. Without a change to these immigration rules the NHS will continue to pay millions of pounds to temporarily rent nurses from overseas." 

Train more nurses

Dr Carter concluded: "The only way for the UK to regain control over its own health service workforce is by training more nurses. 37,000 potential nursing students were turned away last year so there are people out there who want to embark on a nursing career. There are clear signs of a global nursing shortage, meaning an ongoing reliance on overseas recruitment is not just unreliable but unsustainable. Unless we expand training and have enough nurses in this country, we will also be at the mercy of global trends which we can't control.

"The UK has always benefited from attracting some of the worldís most talented and caring nurses, and overseas nurses will continue to play a vital role in our health services. But an over reliance on their recruitment is not in anyone's best long term interests."

View the RCN report, International Recruitment 2015 here

Monday, 15 June 2015

Future Students Are Set to Suffer From Educational Grant Cuts

Proposals have been made by ministers to phase out educational grants for students from low income households, in order to find savings ahead of the Budget. Currently, grants are worth up to £3,387 a year for students from households with an income of £25,000 or less, while levels of financial support decreases in increments to students from household incomes of up to £42,000.

It was bad enough that higher education fees were allowed, under the coalition government, to treble in 2010, but the future is looking bleak for less well off students to attain higher education if they receive no financial support towards their studies. The prospect of incurring debt so early on in life will only put people off from applying to universities.

Proposals are inevitable
Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) believes that the move is inevitable as he told Newsnight: “BIS is one of the departments that no political party promised to protect, and this is one of the very big items in BIS's budget, so I do think it's likely to happen, yes.” Mr Hillman also believes that this move “is better than reducing the number of university places.”

Repayment conditions will get tougher
Megan Dunn, vice president of National Union of Students holds a different view to this move as she said: “We know that our poorest students are the most likely to be deterred by debt, but it could also affect where students choose to live and which courses to take.” She added: “If grants are cut, it could mean the cost of student loans will go up for everyone or repayment conditions will get tougher than they already are. This is yet another unreasonable barrier to accessing higher education.”

Increasing national debt
Although removing grants completely and converting a portion of grants to loans will save around £2bn over three years, the likelihood is that the increase in student loans will increase the national debt and eventually cost the taxpayer in the long term.

Taking away from future generations
Student Wesley Cripps, who received a maintenance grant to complete his degree at Buckinghamshire New University, said to Newsnight: “I feel really proud, and I think taking away the maintenance grant could potentially take away that opportunity from future generations of people like me, that are sitting here today gleaming with pride.”

International Writing Competition for Budding Authors

The Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP) have launched an exciting manuscript competition for authors called ‘Chapter One’, which can help you take your writing career to the next level. The deadline is very near, so be sure to get writing and apply before the end of June. What’s more is it’s accessible to authors from anywhere around the globe.

Deadline: Tue 30 Jun 2015
Entry prize: New publication pathway and prize for emerging writers: ‘Chapter One’ and $500 in cash.
Regions: International

The winner will receive a written appraisal of his or her work from an established literary author and a letter of recommendation to University of Western Australia Press (UWAP) – a ‘tick of approval’ that will effectively place their manuscript on top of the submissions pile for priority assessment.

The winner will also receive a $500 cash prize and fully subsidised conference fees for the annual conference of the AAWP in November, 2015, to read from their work. 

Eligible writers need to submit one chapter (or 5,000 words) of prose from a literary novel, short story collection, or a hybrid work that crosses genre boundaries, or up to 500 lines of poetry. The winner may also secure a publishing contract with UWAP.

Find out more and submit your manuscript to and check out AAWP’s website at

Patients Feel Let Down By a ‘Struggling’ Mental Health Crisis Care System

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), in its review on the help given to people in need of urgent mental health care, found that the mental health care system was ‘struggling to cope”. The investigation was carried out as a result of the UK government and mental health care services and agencies signing the Crisis Care Concordat, which promised round-the-clock services to people in a mental health crisis. The CQC looked into telephone advice, mental health staff, as well as intensive support at home for people who are suicidal, having serious panic attacks or psychotic episodes.

Inadequate support
Many people have said they felt they received better assistance from the police and ambulance crews, or community mental health teams and volunteers, than from the medical and mental health professionals. Using analysis of national data, inspections of services and surveys of patients, the CQC said that people are receiving inadequate support.

The report will not come as a surprise
Paul Farmer, Chief executive of Mind, said: “The report will not come as a surprise to anyone who has found themselves in crisis or who is involved in supporting people when they are at their most unwell. We take for granted that when we have a physical health emergency we will get the help we need urgently. It should be no different for mental health.”
Patients’ concerns not taken seriously
According to the report, only a third of patients felt their concerns were taken seriously and that they had been treated with compassion and warmth by A&E staff. In light of the Crisis Care Concordat’s targets, which include support before a crisis point, urgent andemergency care, quality treatment and aftercare, the CQC’s mental health lead, Dr Paul Lelliot says the report’s findings must “act as a wake-up call” to address the gaps in mental health crisis care.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Virtual Reality Enhancement “Tricks” Stroke Patients into Recovery

This week, an article from revealed that researchers in Spain have found virtual reality enhancement to significantly improve stroke patients’ recovery by “tricking” them into thinking their affected limb is more accurate than it really is. In the pilot study of 20 stroke patients using 'Rehabilitation Gaming System' with a Microsoft Kinect sensor, researchers would sometimes enhance the virtual representation of the patients’ weakened limb to make it seem to move faster and more accurately, without letting them know. As a result, the patients unwittingly used their affected limbs with increased confidence.

Enhanced recovery
Belen Rubio from the Laboratory of Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain said: “Surprisingly, only 10 minutes of enhancement was enough to induce significant changes in the amount of spontaneous use of the affected limb.” The chances of the group of 20 patients using their paretic limb to reach for something straight in front of them was, on  average, 35% of the time – but after using virtual reality enhancement, the chances of them using their paretic arm increased to an average of 50% of the time – on par with a healthy person.

Increased motor function
Stroke patients tend to underutilise their paretic limbs, which can weaken them even more and lead to loss of motor function. The results of the study showed the researchers that stroke patients’ confidence play an important role in enhancing their recovery. Mrs Rubio also said: "This therapy could create a virtuous circle of recovery, in which positive feedback, spontaneous arm use and motor performance can reinforce each other. Engaging patients in this ongoing cycle of spontaneous arm use, training and learning could produce a remarkable impact on their recovery process."

Although the results show that virtual reality enhancement is, indeed, an effective therapy, further research on a larger number of participants will take place in the future to establish whether the therapy can impact stroke patients’ day-to-day lives.

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